Aunt Gussie Commands

Original Title: Husarenliebe. (Tante Gusti kommandiert.) Musical farce 1932; 88 min.; Director: Carl Heinz Wolff; Cast: Hansi Niese, Max Adalbert, Else Elster, Anton Pointner, Leo Peukert, Wera Liessem, Ines von Taube, Willy Clever, Friedrich Ettel, Erwin Hartung, Carl Auen; Kowo-C. H. Wolff-Tobis-Klangfilm.

Aunt Gusti protects her brother-in-law’s motherless daughters from military personnel due to her own bad experiences. However, when the three girls eventually become engaged to three volunteers with their father’s permission, she resigns herself. But now, her brother-in-law marries her.

After the death of his wife, Chief Tax Secretary Julius Knax takes in his sister-in-law, Gusti Mirbacher, to manage the household for him and his daughters Käthe, Irma, and Ursula. It doesn’t take long for the determined Aunt Gusti to assume control. One day, when she has to go on a trip, Knax and his daughters, defying her strict prohibition, attend a ball hosted by the infantry. They have a marvelous time, returning home very late and getting caught in their beds by Aunt Gusti the next morning. On that eventful day, Knax is late for work for the first time but is surprisingly promoted to the position of Chief Accountant in the non-garrison town of Spießburg. He owes this lucrative transfer to his sister-in-law, who has always disapproved of the military ever since she was abandoned by a soldier in the past. Shortly after their arrival, two squadrons of hussars are stationed there, transforming Spießburg into a garrison town. Aunt Gusti’s attempts to save the three girls from the hussars are doomed to fail. The girls fall in love with three hussars. Finally, a triple engagement is celebrated at the grand hussar ball. But Aunt Gusti also finds late happiness by Julius Knax’s side.

t.’s review in Film Kurier No. 252 (October 25, 1932)
The comfortable and relaxed screenplay by Siegfried Philippi doesn’t venture into new territory: it avoids even the well-trodden side roads and sticks to the tried-and-true main road with this “folk play with music, song, and military.”

As expected, in the House of Three Girls [Dreimäderlhaus], three hussars make an appearance, and Aunt Gustl finally gets her Chief Accountant. It delivers everything that the audience rightly expects from hussars: the regiment’s entrance cheered on by the townspeople, the regimental ball, the strict Captain, and the eventual engagement with a happy ending.

The audience gratefully and joyfully embraces the military farce, skillfully and pleasingly presented by Karl Heinz Wolff.

Among the various nuances of German film production, this genre is undoubtedly a “sure bet.” The audience and producers are satisfied, shaking hands in agreement, and no one is left disappointed. If military films aren’t your cup of tea, then stay away, and anyone who attacks this harmless and popular entertainment with a drawn lance (or fountain pen) is akin to Don Quixote.

Hansi Niese and Max Adalbert, especially in their contrasting styles, form a brilliant comedy duo. The seasoned Niese, adept at jesting and folk plays like few others, exudes affability, coziness, and an unmistakable humanity… while Adalbert, grumpy and eccentric, a confirmed bachelor waiting to be taken down— their contrasting personas blend so well that it would be delightful even without the martial flourishes.

Hansi Niese, this warm-hearted and humorous Viennese, cannot be welcomed warmly enough in German popular films. She demonstrates the art of delivering a couplet, making it understandable down to the last syllable. She showcases clean and pointed speech, proving that stepping in front of the microphone and under the film spotlight with a lifetime of stage experience is not an empty delusion.

Else Elster and Willi Clever deserve mention among the rest of the ensemble for their graceful and likable performances. The witty song lyrics are by Willi Rosen and Kurt Schwabach, set to music by Franz Doelle.

This clean and unpretentious entertainment affair certainly has no reason to be embarrassed about its audience.